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Fan Led Review of Football Governance

Football is almost always in the news, but the news often is about failing clubs, poor ownership, Premier League domination and overseas influence. A new story is grabbing the headlines, and it’s one into which your club has had some input. Peter Leatham, chair of the Stanley Supporters’ Trust and Andy Holt, owner/chair of Stanley, have both had personal input into the review, undertaken by Tracey Crouch MP.

The Fan-led Review into Football Governance final report was published this week.

The FSA welcomed the Fan-Led Review into Football Governance (FLR) and helped shape a format which saw all FSA affiliate and associate supporter organisations given the opportunity to present evidence to the FLR panel, along with the football leagues, FA and other important stakeholders.

The FSA evidence submission ran to 226 pages covering football governance, the scope of an independent regulator, club ownership, supporter rights, supporter engagement, football finance, protection of assets, women’s football and more.

Prior to the FLR’s launch in April 2021 we had four basic questions against which we planned to measure the final report: Does it put measures in place to better protect clubs from insolvency? Does it stop a future ESL breakaway? Does it embed supporter engagement into football’s power structures? Does it redistribute football’s wealth in a more sustainable manner?

The Summary of the final report’s recommendations seem to deliver on all of the aspirations:

Governance: an independent regulator for football (IREF) which has the necessary investigative and enforcement powers is needed to prevent the recurrence of such developments as the ESL.

Finance: football’s model is unsustainable with too many clubs making losses. Pre-emptive action is needed and a regulator will impose stronger financial controls.

Engagement: proposals to embed democratic supporter organisations and engagement within the heart of domestic football.

Heritage: football stadiums, club badges, location, colours and competitions all deserve special protections. Fans to have a veto on these assets at every club via a “golden share” which is held by a democratic, legally-constituted fan group. These protections confer many benefits of ownership without supporter groups being required to raise capital.

Reform: half of the FA Board should be made up of independent non-executive directors, to reduce elite club influence. The FLR also recommends reform of the FA Council.

Distribution: the removal of restrictions on FA spending meaning more money redirected towards grassroots, non-league and women’s football.

The first half is over and supporters are winning – but games can turn. The second half of the process will involve lobbying and Parliamentary scrutiny. The voice of FSA members will be vital as we seek to steer legislation through Parliament in 2022. The FLR is a huge step forward but it is not the end of the journey.

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